Unbelievable news out of the NCAA today. Because of the effects of technical suits - suits which were not deemed to have an effect when they were reinstituted late last summer - the committee has moved to add 67 slots to the competitor caps. The change also addresses teams which qualified individuals prior to the December 19th interpretation that limited competitors to one suit.
In a memo to athletic directors, senior woman administrators, conference commissioners and coaches, Committee Chair Tracy Huth and Assistant Director of Championships Maisha Palmer, explained:
The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Committee met via conference call Monday, February 9, to discuss the potential effects of the technical swimsuit on the competitor caps for the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.
The committee also reviewed information regarding the ramifications of the interpretation effective December 19, 2008, defining the uniform as one swimsuit or garment. It was decided that the timing of this interpretation may have created an unfair competitive advantage for those student-athletes who competed prior to December 19 wearing more than one suit.
The new limits will be 314 women (up from 281) and 269 men (up from 235). This is a one-time increase for the 2009 championships. The number of divers remains unchanged. The increases were based on the number of individual 'A' qualifiers achieving their times prior to the December 19th interpretation.
The committee has not yet made a similar move in Division III, which selects its participants the same way as Division I. That doesn't mean, however, that cap relief isn't on the horizon. (Division II uses a differing selection method and does not have a hard cap on participants.)
CSCAA President and Johns Hopkins head Coach George Kennedy has ask the NCAA rules committee to forward a similar proposal to the NCAA based on the same rationale. It is an issue that Kennedy has been working on tirelessly in the past several months. In his request to the committee, he stated, "Your reasoning is very clear that it is an unfair advantage for all of the cut times accomplished prior to the December 19 directive about double suiting. Division III uses the same protocol for meet selection as DI, and it makes sense to raise the DIII cap by the number of cuts accomplished using two suits also."
Kennedy continued, "I urge you on behalf of all of the coaches and swimmers in Division III to use the same justification in expanding the DIII cap for this year's championships as you have proposed for the DI championships. Many of us just received a copy of the DI committee's letter to expand the numbers just yesterday... I know time is crucial and coaches are at their conference meets, but it would be in all of our best interests for you all to have dialogue on this, and pursue it if you feel it is the right thing to do."